DEAR SUN SPOTS: On Jan. 4 I received a phone call telling me that “your order for the Medic Alert is now ready for shipping. Press 1 now. Since you were referred by a medical professional, you are eligible for …” at which point I hung up.

Neither I nor my doctor or other medical professional have ordered this or any other medical alert system. This call is presented as if the person called has either placed an order themselves, or had one placed for them by “a medical professional,” a term most people would translate to their doctor.

The caller does not begin with a sales pitch, but rather as a follow-up call to a placed order. It seems to target the elderly. This has to be a scam, and one that could victimize anyone. Please alert your readers or pass this along to another department of the newspaper. Thank you. — No Name via email

ANSWER: Sun Spots received the exact same call and also hung up immediately. In fact, she hangs up on all telemarketers, whether a robocall or real person. She used to politely listen and then refuse, but the calls have become so prolific and are so often of questionable origin that now she just hangs up before they have a chance to start their spiel.

You can tell that the call is from a telemarketer because they use a computer “dialer.” It actually makes the call, then when the phone is answered the computer routes the call to the next available employee. This creates a delay of a few seconds. Instead of saying “hello” repeatedly, just hang up.

If you can’t bring yourself to be as rude as Sun Spots, the next best option is to refuse to do ANY business over the phone. Instead, ask that material be mailed to you. If it’s a legitimate charitable request or other legal, important call, the person on the other end will gladly comply.

Medicare and Social Security do not call people; they write letters. The same with contests and sweepstakes, the IRS or Maine Revenue. There is absolutely nothing you are going to lose out on by refusing to talk to someone on the phone. Legitimate callers will gladly contact you by mail.

Scammers use phone calls because they give you less time to think. If you get a letter that you doubt, you have more time to think things over, and scammers don’t want that.

Sun Spots says: Do not give anyone money over the phone. If the caller claims to be a relative, verify it.

Scammers take advantage of hearing loss, loneliness and pride. If a call has upset or confused you, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. If you don’t have family to ask, call your Area Agency on Aging (877-353-3771), or ask at your town office, the local bank, your public library or contact law enforcement. There is always someone who will help you figure out what action, if any, needs to be taken.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I’m a volunteer with a Maine-based nonprofit organization called Star Teachings Society. We are seeking donations of new or excellent condition blankets, yarn and warm winter clothing as part of our ongoing outreach project, Blanket of Stars.

We wish to share these items with our Native American communities as well as local shelters, and we will be making periodic deliveries to Aroostook County throughout the winter.

Do you know of any people or businesses who might be able to give a gift of new or gently used coats, yarn and/or blankets? Do you have items in your closet that you would like to give away? We would love to talk with you about arranging a pickup, or items may be dropped off at any of our public events, listed at www.starteachingssociety.org.

We have a large event coming up on Feb. 2 at Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St., Portland, and we will have a station set up from 2 to 5 p.m. to accept donations. Thank you for kindness and assistance. We’re all about the kindness. — Leah F., [email protected]

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]


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